Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Archive

December 4, 2012

Meteorologists help develop a new model that may aid in predicting flu outbreaks

Figuring out where and when the next flu outbreak will occur may soon be less of a guessing game, thanks to technology from the meteorological world.

To predict when and where the flu may hit, scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the National Center for Atmospheric Research have collaborated on a model that operates like a weather modeling system.

"This system can potentially be used to estimate the probability of regional outbreaks of the flu several weeks in advance," said Alicia Karspeck, a scientist at NCAR and a co-author of a study published in October in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After developing their model, Karspeck and Columbia University colleague Jeffrey Shaman ran it for the 2003-2008 flu seasons in New York. The results, they wrote, showed that "real-time skillful predictions of peak timing [of a flu outbreak] can be made more than 7 weeks in advance of the actual peak."

Shaman and Karspeck's system uses near-real-time data from Google Flu Trends, which tracks flu activity. The data can help overcome incomplete understanding about how weather and other factors (such as the exchange of germs indoors) may affect flu transmission.

While the authors caution that their study represents just a first step in influenza forecasting, they are hopeful about its application: "We will soon reach an era when reliable forecasts of some infectious pathogens are as commonplace as weather predictions."

 

1
Text Only
AP Video
Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return
Seasonal Content
House Ads
Twitter Updates
Front page
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide